Director – William Lustig (Maniac, Maniac Cop)
Starring – Robert Forster (Jackie Brown, Psycho), Fred Williamson (From Dusk Till Dawn, Hammer), and Richard Bright (The Godfather: Part II, Ghoul School)
Release Date – 1982
Rating – 3.5/5
4K Release – 4.5/5
I’ve been collecting Blue Underground releases for around 10 or 15 years now. I remember a friend of mine getting Deathdream on DVD and after watching it he gave it to me. I fucking loved the film and before long I had Zombi, City of the Living Dead, Dead and Buried, and many more. Sometime over the years I found myself with a copy of Vigilante which was directed by Blue Underground founder William Lustig. I never got around to checking it out but friends of mine that know my taste in film has recommended I check it out several times.
A few months back BU announced a 4K release of the film and I requested a copy to review. It was shipped out when available but due to everything going on it was stuck in PA for several weeks. It finally arrived a few days back and I couldn’t wait to dig into it. I want to thank MVD and Blue Underground for sending this one over.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a blue collar family man who returns home to find his wife beaten and stabbed multiple times but alive while his child was gunned down. They find the suspected murderer, a gang leader, but the court allows only gives him two years in prison. Outraged, he attacks him and finds himself locked up for 30 days. After avoiding being raped in the prison showers, he is set free where he teams up with several vigilantes in the neighborhood to bring a stop to the crime in violence in the city. **Spoiler Alert**
The vigilante/gang movies of the late 70s and 80s have always interested me. When I was in elementary school I became obsessed with The Warriors and over the years I’ve found myself always on the look out for other films like it. Ironically, a good bit of those films star Fred Williamson who also stars in this one. Vigilante was a bit of good fun and I really enjoyed it. I could see myself revisiting this one several more times before the year is out.
The acting in this one is great. I love seeing Fred Williamson in these kinds of films. I met him at Shockacon a few years back and he was fucking hilarious and genuinely nice. His performance here is a little underwhelming compared to what I’ve seen him do in the past but he was still great to watch. Robert Forster was also great. His role was a little more demanding than Williamson’s but he gave it his all. The supporting cast is solid as well but Williamson and Forster are the main focus of the film.
The story for this one is a bit of a flip on the typical gang films we see from the time with a Death Wish twist to it. Most of the vigilante, taking justice into our own hands, movies of the late 70s and early 80s followed gangs/bikers as they sought out their own brand of justice. However, here we follow a group as they push back against gangs. When you mix this with a Paul Kersey like character you get a very entertaining film that does not disappoint. Sure, some of the scenes are pretty slow but it works for the story.
Finally, this is not a gory flick like some of the other releases from blue Underground. The story is an action crime thriller so the deaths fit the film. We get stabbing and gunshots. The stabbings are what you would expect but the gunshots are fucking brutal and fantastic. I fucking loved the attention to detail in these death scenes and how bloody they were. Overall, Vigilante is a fantastic piece of early 80s cinema. The cast is great and the story is really engaging. The transfer on this release is absolutely fantastic. This film in 4K is absolutely amazing and the special features are the icing on the cake. I highly suggest checking this one out.
New 4K Restoration from the original 35mm camera negative
Ultra HD Blu-ray (2160p) and HD Blu-ray (1080p) Widescreen 2.40:1 Feature Presentation
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos; English: 5.1 DTS-HD; English: 2.0 DTS-HD; French, Italian, German: Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, Francais, Espanol, Portugues
Audio Commentary #1 with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig and Co-Producer Andrew Garroni
Audio Commentary #2 with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig and Stars Robert Forster, Fred Williamson and Frank Pesce
NEW! Audio Commentary #3 with Film Historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson
NEW! Blue Collar DEATH WISH Interviews with Writer Richard Vetere, Star RutanyaAlda, Associate Producer/First A.D./Actor Randy Jurgensen, and others
NEW! Urban Western – Interview with Composer Jay Chattaway
Poster & Still Galleries
BONUS! Collectible Booklet with new essay by Michael Gingold
BONUS! 3D Lenticular Slipcover (First Pressing Only)